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  1. #1
    lanielle is offline Newbie
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    Can't understand

    Hello all.

    I'm a private English teacher in Japan. One of my current students is studying translating and comes to me with some interesting texts and questions. Not all which I can answer, even with a BA in English Literature.

    So, he recently brought this short paragraph to me. I'll highlight the area of most confusion.

    Not for nothing is this the home of the doctor who caused a global scandal several years ago by helping a 62-year-old woman give birth with a donated egg. It is a thoroughly anomalous situation, for while Italy has less restrictions on genetic experimentation than anywhere in the world, Italians, with Roman Catholicism imprinted in their DNA, are for the most part deeply conservative in their approach to bio-ethical issues.
    He did tell me that this was an excerpt out a larger text, but he didn't have it with him. Is that the reason I'm not understanding the word order in the beginning of the first sentence or am I just not getting something that should be so simple? He wants me to explain the meaning and has other questions relating to it, but I don't even know the meaning of this phrase.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Can't understand

    There's a nearly identical text here: www.hello.ac/guide/goukaku/pdf/goukaku02.pdf

    It's protected, so I cannot copy, but you'll find the full text on p20 of the PDF (numbered 55). Basically it says that Italy has gone without laws controlling reproductive rights, which is why (not for nothing...) it is the doctor's home- he has a good reason to live there.

  3. #3
    lanielle is offline Newbie
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    Re: Can't understand

    Many thanks! That clears things up a lot.

  4. #4
    lanielle is offline Newbie
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    Re: Can't understand

    I've never heard "not for nothing" used in this way. Am I the only one?
    Also, the "is this" sounds more like a question. I suppose I'm still misunderstanding the sentence structure.

  5. #5
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    Re: Can't understand

    1. In answer to your question, Ianielle: It's a construction used mainly in fairly formal contexts, so many native speakers may not be aware of having encountered it.

    2. When an utterance begins with a negative or near-negative word/phrase, subject and verb are inverted (and the auxiliary DO is used with full verbs), resulting in a form that is identical to a negative construction. It is not, however, negative in meaning. Examples:

    I have never seen such a beautiful sight.
    Never have I seen such a beautiful sight.

    One rarely meets such a fascinating man as George.
    Rarely does one meet such a fascinating man as George.

  6. #6
    shoaib 1 is offline Member
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    Re: Can't understand

    Quote Originally Posted by lanielle View Post
    I've never heard "not for nothing" used in this way. Am I the only one?
    Also, the "is this" sounds more like a question. I suppose I'm still misunderstanding the sentence structure.
    It is also possible to say "This home of the doctor is not for nothing......" But this would be less emphatic than the one you quoted.Inverse structure is used for emphasis.

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